Oxford boss Liam Manning hailed his team’s comfortable 3-0 win over Shrewsbury at the Kassam Stadium as “another professional performance”.
The U’s briefly went back to the top of Sky Bet League One, only for Portsmouth’s late winner against Wycombe to leave Manning’s men in second place, but with a four-point cushion over third-placed Bolton.
Oxford’s goals came from Fin Stevens in the 17th minute, Ciaron Brown on the hour-mark and Greg Leigh in stoppage time, with the Shrews not helping themselves as Joe Anderson was sent off just before the second goal for a second yellow card.
Keeper Marko Marosi was at fault for the first and third goals.
Manning said: “It was a really professional performance because we restricted them to very little, and arguably could have scored more goals.
“This was another experience for the team, seeing how we could break down opponents when we had a lot of possession, and later when they had 10 players.
“We are playing with confidence and we wanted to make sure the intensity is there, and the discipline and we had that.
“Our first goal was wing-back to wing-back – Leigh to Stevens – and it was nice for Stevens to get his first goal – it’s important to us that everyone chips in.”
Left-back Leigh, who was sent off against Port Vale and then away on international duty, is now Oxford’s second highest scorer.
Manning said: “Yes, Greg had an interesting start to his career here, but you could see last Saturday the quality he has and what he brings to us.
“I actually thought we had more quality against 11 players in the first half than we did against 10. But it was another new experience and good test to see how we managed the game against 10 men.
“We’ve got options coming off the bench and depth, it’s a strong group and people need to be ready for when they come in and get a chance.”
Shrewsbury’s head coach Matty Taylor admitted he was angry with his players.
Taylor said: “It was always going to be tough coming here against a good team and when you make the errors we did that makes it even tougher.
“Out of possession I thought we were in control but we made three bad errors and got punished for it.
“And making errors is uncharacteristic for this group of players.
“There has been a conversation in the dressing room and the players, who are obviously disappointed, understand why I am angry.
“With the first goal Marosi should catch it and doesn’t, and the third goal – coming all the way out there – is something he doesn’t need to do.
“He has been consistent for us, and he needs to get back to being consistent for us again.
“I have no arguments with the sending off. I’ve looked back at it and yes, it’s two yellow cards.
“But apart from the three errors and three goals, I think our keeper’s only had one real save to make.
“I think 11 v 11 we would have created more chances, but going down to 10 men and then conceding a second goal from that free-kick made it impossible for us.
“We need to regroup and make sure we don’t do this again. I am really angry because that is not a reflection of the types of players we have got at this club.
“We didn’t make the correct decisions as often as we have in previous games. The players now need to be positive for what is a massive and difficult game against Northampton on Saturday.”